Not the usual kind of walk….

I am not planning to do a walk today, though you never know. For the last 50 days, I have exceeded 5 miles every single day and my weekly intensity minutes too, so I think I am entitled to a day off! And just to make you tired I have walked 418,944 steps this month, which is the equivalent of over 200 miles – almost 1/3 of the Southwest Coast Path, which I did with one of my sons over 20 years ago.  I digress. So if not walking, I thought I would share with you some of the more unusual things I have seen or done this week on my walks.

On Saturday, I was treated to a superb display of fish aeronautics as a shoal of mackerel were hunting baby crabs around Port Erin beach for several hours – at least that is the latest story I have heard. It was similar to what I imagine the Northern Lights might look like, the fish changing direction and formations to make the most of their catch. The gulls stood waiting for their moment to pounce. It was all quite mesmerising.

 

And yesterday, I did a walk from Castletown to Silverdale Glen (and back) to assist in  “Splashing about in Silverdale”, an event run by Manx Wildlife Trust – http://www.manxwt.org.uk/ –  to introduce children to the secret delights of underwater river life. The river is thankfully unpolluted which enabled us to find a wide variety of creatures. Having been instructed on how to use the nets effectively and our feet to disturb the wildlife, we soon found mayfly nymphs and stonefly nymphs, fresh water shrimps, worms, caddis fly cases to name but a few things. Dawn Dickens was her usual brilliant, enthusiastic self making it fun for children and adults alike. She showed the children how the caddis fly builds a nest with tiny stones that stick to the rocks, so we all spent a happy few minutes turning the boulders over in the hope of finding the spoils, and we were not disappointed.

Next Tuesday is “Bouncing Bogs” at Dalby Mountain – we hope to see you there, too.

On the way there and back, I couldn’t resist collecting blackberries from the hedgerows, so part of today will be spent making blackberry and apple pies to freeze.

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But first of all, work beckons…

 

 

 

 

Slideshow of Milner Tower and Bradda Head, 4 miles Wednesday 29th August 2018

A stunning evening walk around Bradda Head, just 4 miles or so from my house. Do you need any other reason to live here?

There is quite climb up to Milner Tower which might not suit everyone, but there are other options to reach the top. If you take the car to West Bradda you can take a gentle sloping path with barely any ascent all the way!

Check out this video I took last night – I can’t upload it here, so have a look on my Facebook page:

Castletown to Langness Golf Links (No 19) and Fort Island – 4 miles (return 2.5 miles), Tuesday August 28, 2018

This short walk may be mostly on road and only a relatively short distance, but it is nonetheless spectacular in its simplicity, its peacefulness and breathtaking distant views in all directions, not forgetting the sea breeze that might sweep away any lingering cobweb at any moment. The bonus is the start and end point at Castletown, with its fine buildings, windy streets, castle and teahouses.

I was meeting some friends who had had an apartment in the Brambles at Port Erin when I was living there. They had moved to Anglesey and they were unexpectedly visiting the island for the Grand Prix, so we arranged to meet at No.19 for lunch.

For me, this meant I could get the bus to Castletown and then walk along the various beaches and shore lines with their different ambiences and if time walk the perimeter of the Langness peninsular. Today, this was unlikely as I had to get back to teach dancing but one can but dream…

I had thought of visiting the Castle first but decided I wanted to visit Fort Island and there wasn’t time for both, so I grabbed a takeaway coffee and walked round some of the quaint streets that comprise Castletown before visiting the loos on the bridge (worth knowing where they are, as there aren’t many that are open every day in Castletown). The loos in the Town Hall are closed at weekends.  I walked down past the Peggy Museum onto the coast road. I sat on some steps overlooking the bay and watched the tide whilst I drank my coffee, then resumed my journey stopping briefly at Hango Hill opposite the King William’s College and continuing on to Derbyhaven.

 

Photos: Derbyhaven Bay, Hango Hill and King William College

Here, rather than taking the road I continued on a very very short distance to the bay and walked along the beach. The tide was coming in and this is always the best time to see Derbyhaven. From there it is only a stone’s throw, say half a mile, around the Bay to the Golf Links and No 19, but I wanted to continue along the coast path as I still had an hour to spare.

And what a great hour I had, messing about on Fort Island. I haven’t been here for years. You walk across the causeway, which now prevents the island from being separated from the mainland.

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It is quite a nature reserve here, and the sea so very clear and clean, and having rocky outcrops as opposed to the rest of Deebyhaven bay which is sand and pebbles, I could scramble about the rocks and have fun.  There is the old chapel and of course, the Fort, but most of all the views are simply terrific and you can really open your eyes and let your long distance vision take over. My thoughts were that my grandchildren, Emily and Joe would enjoy it here, so I must bring them when they come over next.

 

And that was yesterday’s walk as I had to return via almost the same route, except in Castletown I walked through the Bowling Green, where there were bowlers and spectators alike enjoying the sunshine. There is an excellent cafe here, where you can sit inside or out, and appreciate not just the bowling but beautiful landscaped flowerbeds. I also wanted to walk along the Crofts with its stunning houses. I reached Castle Rushen school and waited patiently for the bus, which was running late due to the Grand Prix, and got home just in time to spend the next three hours teaching ballroom dancing.

Although I walked this route, you can take the car all the way to the Golf Links and even on to Fort Island, so this is suitable for a wide range of ages and abilities. You could start your walk where I ended and walk round a variety of paths on Langness, but I will save that for another day.

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Peel Northern Cliff Walk – 3 miles

Well, this was a red-letter day: a short walk, only 3 or so miles!! And red in other respects too. The cliffs around Peel are different from any others you will come across in the Isle of Man landscape being made of red sandstone. The wonderful Peel castle is and the grand Peel Cathedral (as well as many of the houses in Peel) are made out of this same substance, just as in the south many of the buildings comprise the local limestone.

I had just been to a Pilates class. The weather was sunny with a fresh wind, the tide was in and the white horses were galloping over the sea. It was so inviting. I ignored my first thought to get back to Port Erin and the drudgery of work and allowed myself an extra hour of exhilaration before succumbing to the normal duties of life.

Walking beside the Marina, I started at the bridge over the River Neb and walked along the promenade. As I reached the far end the waves were crashing against the concrete defences, throwing up massive fountains of water onto the pavements. Some boys were having great fun on their bikes and getting soaked in the process. I avoided the temptation to touch or kick the rocks at the far end which I believe is a tradition for Peelers.

I climbed the short distance on to the cliff, which skirts round the edge of Peel, past the old beach swimming pool. This is a very easy walk, which is great for all ages and affords a wonderful view of Peel and its surrounds. A nice grassy path, hardly any elevation, and stunning views to the north and west. It’s just a shame I can’t share them with you as my phone ran out of battery after about 5 mins – nothing new there then.

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The jagged rocks stick out from the path and many seabirds were taking advantage of this, and there were shags and cormorants drying their wings in the fresh air, and several other smaller seabirds skirmishing around in the wind.

The walk continues north for about 1.5 miles on a relatively narrow and windy footpath when it turns inward in order to go round a cove. I stopped at this point and retraced my path back to Peel. If I lived in Peel this would become my standard constitutional walk and indeed there were others enjoying this path along with me, including a runner.

If you are bringing children, you would need to keep very young ones close to you to stop them straying off the path and into the sea,  but this is a walk children from 5+ (and dogs) would really enjoy and only being a short distance, it is well within their compass. Not a walk for wheelchairs or pushchairs however.

For those who like a longer walk, you could extend the walk to include Peel Hill or a short walk around the perimeter of the castle. Or, as this is the start of the coastal footpath to Kirk Michael walking northwards is another option, though getting back to Peel might be interesting as you would have to check the bus timetable and avoid TT. There’s a challenge  ….

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Santon to Douglas along Marine Drive – 8 miles

The weather forecast was promising, the steam train was running, what could possibly go wrong on my trip to Douglas today? I was out scouting for a new breathable waterproof jacket so the plan was to get the train to Port Soderick and walk the 4 or so miles into Douglas via the scenic marine drive.

I arrived early at the railway station and immediately had doubts as there was no train in the station and all the sheds were locked up. I had checked the timetable and there should have been one at 1 o’clock. Arriving at the booking office, the board proudly announced the next train would be 2 o’clock. Not wanting to waste more than an hour and a quarter I hopped on a bus. Only the bus doesn’t go to Port Soderick and I hadn’t got a map with me, so my guess was to get off at Santon and walk the extra couple of miles to Port Soderick. After all, I would still get there before the train.

So, that’s what I did. Only, not only was the weather forecast wrong, it pelted it down for the first half hour and I was beginning to wonder about the wisdom of getting off the dry bus when I could have gone all the way to Douglas on it. Anyway, too late. I took the attractive footpath behind the big house at Santon which leads to the old Castletown road. At least I kept mainly dry this way.

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Then I had to follow the Old Castletown road until the turn off to Port Soderick, not the most exciting walk especially as drivers are using it as a short cut during the races, but necessary in the circumstances. And it rained. By the time I arrived at the lovely Port Soderick Glen and the coast, the weather had brightened up a little, so I enjoyed my sandwich and Millionaire’s Shortcake in something resembling sunshine.

Photos: Port Soderick Glen

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Photo: Port Soderick Bay and the Port Erin to Douglas steam train

I took the steep stepped path up to the coast road. I instinctively knew that I would see the train at this point and I was not disappointed, although it looked somewhat strange with its engine facing the wrong direction. I turned on to Marine Drive and followed this lovely route and a lady walking very briskly all the way to Douglas. It kept mainly dry until the end when the wind suddenly got up and the clouds darkened before spitting out another dollop of rain. As you can see from the featured photograph (the one at the top), Douglas had put its coat on this afternoon, but by the time I arrived there, it was brilliant sunshine and it remained so for the rest of the day.

Did I get my waterproof? Well, yes and no. I had gone with a list recommended by reviews and no-one had any of those in stock, but I did take a fancy to the Berghaus Glissade 111, so asked for this to be put by for me. I came home and ordered it through Quidco, thereby getting cashback of £12.90 on the same item, which I shall now have to collect from Douglas another time. But then, I shall get the bus!!

P.S. I tried a different camera for this trip, but my mobile phone is so much better I shall have to return to this next time.

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Ballabeg, Cringle Reservoir, Castletown 19th August – 11 miles

It’s always good to do different things. This walk takes you mostly over farmland and you get a totally different impression of the island compared with walking the well-trodden coastal footpaths or the popular glens. You begin to appreciate that people work on this land rather than work in this land. The feature photograph is typical of the extensive views that this walk affords for most of its length. It’s not a high walk, the total ascent was only just over 800 ft and is within the capabilities of most reasonably fit people, though you may prefer to take a full day to absorb all the wonderful views rather than the half day I was out.

I got to bus to Ballabeg and walked up the back road beside the lovely Arbory church before turning off onto a path I had never walked before. This was an attractive, narrow path leading gradually uphill towards Ronague, bordered on either side by a wide range of vegetation. I remember being told that you can tell the age of a path by the number of varieties of shrubs in the hedgerows. The blackberries are out in abundance and during the whole walk I regularly stopped to pick and eat the plump berries.

As other days, there were lots of butterflies, mainly speckled woods. The path widens out as you ascend to allow tractors to reach the fields from Ronague. This was very muddy after last night’s heavy rain, so I was glad I wore my walking boots. At Ronague a black hen came out to greet me. The map says there is a chapel, but this seems to have been converted to a house, as is so often the case.

There is some road walking on a small B road before turning to the right to follow farm tracks. It was here that the official route departs from the actual route on the ground. The official path is supposed to go north behind the farm at Ballaglashan over the ford and on to another dwelling and up to the remains of the medieval chapel. In reality these paths no longer exist. At Ballaglashan I had to climb over a fence and struggled with another gate, aided and abetted by a horse who wanted to see what was in my rucksack and kept nuzzling against the gate latch so I couldn’t see what I was doing – and at the next dwelling, the footpath has been removed (though it looks as if they may be redesigning the footpath access as there was one new stile) and there is no direct access to the remains of the old chapel, so I had to do a detour up to the road.  The other footpath delineated on the map from the road doesn’t exist either, but you can see the remains clearly, as in the main photo.

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Photo: Map showing the two dwellings where the official footpath does not exist

I continued to my lunch stop at Cringle Reservoir and watched a Cormorant swimming along and occasionally stopping to flap its wings. Considering the lack of summer rain and the hosepipe ban the reservoir was surprisingly full. South Barrule looked so inviting, but as I didn’t start my walk until 2pm, there was no time to visit. Another time…

The early part of the afternoon was taken walking down the Bayr ny Skeddan – the old herring path that leads from Peel to Castletown. I really enjoyed this, and it was along this route that I felt closest to nature and the integrity of the island. Unfortunately, it is necessary to walk half a mile along the Ballamodha straight, though had I had longer I might have taken the footpath to Grenaby and walked back the full length of the Silverburn. I had hoped there might be a path that would take me to the Grenaby road from one of the farms/houses but although it was apparent it was so overgrown and clearly unused this was not possible. There are one or two gates that are difficult to open and I gave up trying on the one beside Moaney Moar and climbed over.

The Silverburn Glen never disappoints and is always a delight. I stopped at the Mill and had a break before continuing down to Ballasalla, passing by the 13th century Monk’s bridge and the beautiful ford by Rushen Abbey,  then over the fields to Castletown. You could finish the walk at Ballasalla and get the train or bus back, which would reduce the walk by about 2.5 miles. The walk from Ballsalla to Castletown is flat and easy though not suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs. It follows the Silverburn all the way to the coast, and as the tide was in, Castletown looked rather nice in the early evening light.

I walked a little around Castletown before getting the bus back and wondering whether I was going to be able to move when I got off the bus at Port Erin!

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Croit Y Caley / Port Erin Thursday 16 August 2018 – 7 miles

No activity on the blog doesn’t necessarily mean no activity. Since my last blog I have done a Pilates class, a very sweaty Aerobics class, taught several hours of ballroom dancing and completed my regular 10,000 steps per day. Nothing much of interest to blog about there though, hence the silence for a few days.

Today, I had hoped to get in a good walk, but of course in addition to normal work  it was RESULTS day for my Psychology students, so I wasn’t able to get out until 4pm and I had calls lined up for the evening with my online students. I wanted a walk that was basically flat where I could walk briskly and get my heart rate up as I hadn’t managed any intensity minutes yet this week. This walk did exactly that and had the added bonus for some of you that it would make an excellent running or jogging route, and you could expand or curtail it in any direction quite easily. You could turn it into a linear walk and get the bus or train back to Port Erin, or stop at the half way point at Croit Y Caley and do the same.

Those of you who follow me on Facebook will know I got absolutely drenched last night on the way home from teaching ballroom dancing. It is only a 5-7 mins walk and I was completely soaked through and there were streams of water on the roads. This afternoon the weather couldn’t be more different and I set out in brilliant sunshine, not a drop of rain in sight. I took the Truggan Road to Port St Mary, then followed the coast up to the Shore Hotel at Gansey, where I turned up to take the road roughly north towards Croit Y Caley.  The first two miles were so lovely. I do like it when the tide is in as it was today. The shoreline looks so perfect without the messy pebbles scattered all over the beach, and today it looked so blue.

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Photo: Gansey Bay

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Photo: The Mill at Kentraugh

The country lanes to Croit Y Caley are quiet and unspoit but there are no pavements. There are some nice looking traditional houses in this village and they look very cosy. After Croit Y Caley you hit the main back road with all its traffic, but you don’t go far along here, and there is a pavement. At this point you will have walked about 3 miles and you could get the bus back or the train from the Levels.

At the roundabout I turned left, past the tiny but perfectly formed Ballachurry Nature Reserve, and turned right at Kirk Christ, passing by the old cemetery and skirting round the Ponyfields estate in the distance.

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All this still on roads,and again no pavement, but there is virtually no traffic at any time on this road.  On meeting the Ballafesson road, I crossed immediately over to join a path going through the Rowany Golf Course. The view towards Fleshwick is stunning, helped of course by the glorious weather. On exiting the Golf Course, I turned towards Port Erin and followed the coast path (passing by my old flat on the cliff with its wonderful bay views) down onto the beach. I stopped at my favourite place where the waves crash against the rocks before continuing walking along the beach and up onto the far prom and the old breakwater, which was not visible at all today. After that, it was just the standard walk home.

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As you have read, most of this is on pavements or barely used roads, so you take a pushchair or a wheelchair all the way. If you don’t want to go over the Golf course, you can simply take the road back into Port Erin. You can start the walk by parking in Port Erin, taking the Ballafurt Road from behind the beach and then turning on to St Mary’s Road, which becomes Truggan Road.

 

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Not sure when my next blog will be. Sadly, I have a funeral of a very good friend to attend tomorrow, and the weather forecast isn’t great for the weekend, not that that usually puts me off. We’ll see.